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Painted church webI know many of our Winter Texans have already started home. Those who have not already left are probably thinking of packing up and closing down their winter homes. We are going to miss you and look forward to welcoming you back again in the fall. Have a wonderful summer wherever you may be.

But now as you think about the drive home, will you stop along the way? Yes, you are anxious to be home but why not stop and enjoy a little bit more of Texas as you head home? One of your first stops could easily be at Schulenburg - located some five hours straight up North Highway 77. Schulenburg is the home of the Painted Churches and well worth a stop as you head North.

Truly, Texas has been blessed to have so many different nationalities and cultures to settle in our state. Remnants of a European culture still exist in Schulenburg where the original settlers were from Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

It was in 1848, when the German speaking countries were in revolution that so many who were seeking a democratic form of government over a monarchy decided to leave their homeland. Even so, to leave everything behind and start life anew must have been very difficult. It is no wonder that these immigrants missed the architecture of their homeland and the beautiful churches they had left behind. Farmland abounded around Schulenburg but art and materials to copy the beautiful artwork and marble found in their homeland was sadly lacking.

Nothing could stop these homesick Europeans as they thought of ways to build beautiful structures for their community churches. We might say where there is a will there is a way. Stencils were prepared to reproduce religious symbols on the ceiling and walls of their churches. Turkey feathers used as paint brushes turned pillars of wood into what appears to be marble. Today we are blessed and marvel at their ingenuity as we visit the five Painted Churches of Schulenburg.

The Schulenburg Chamber of Commerce conducts tours of the churches. Call them and see if you can arrange to visit some of these churches.

One of my most popular tours is to the Polka Mass held annually on Labor Day Weekend in Schulenburg. All five churches are visited on this two-day tour with a special Flag Salute prior to the Polka Mass held at High Hill Church. After the Mass and a wonderful fried chicken lunch, the polka music continues with many observers and a lot of people dancing to the lively polka music. There is something for everyone from homemade pickles, potted plants, 200 homemade cakes featured in the cake walk and ice-cold beer or soft drinks to quench your thirst.

Fortunately, most of us have never been forced to flee our homeland due to political unrest or physical threats. It must be heart wrenching - and downright frightening - when for whatever reason you have to leave the known for the unknown. No wonder it was so important for these immigrants to duplicate as closely as possible the places of worship they had left behind.

What a legacy they left for their children and great, great grandchildren - and all of us to enjoy. Stop along the road as you head to your summer home. Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to enjoy history and art along the way.

If you are a Converted Texan, or just stay longer, then why not join the group on the Labor Day Weekend to the Polka Mass in Schulenburg. If you elect to strike out on your own, then remember that LaGrange, the Barbeque Capital of Texas is just down the road from Schulenburg and not too much further is San Antonio, Texas’ number one destination.

Enjoy and take care. Just take some time to smell the roses!